We’re All Beholders, And It’s All Beautiful

In a group chat I’m in, someone asked, “Where have you found beauty in your day?” It was only eleven a.m., but I already had a list. After I posted it, I realized I’d missed some. This was a regular sort of day; nothing out-of-the-ordinary had happened aside from laundry, a task I’d been putting off for a week and a half or more and don’t particularly like.

This made me think of something that has often crossed my mind when people talk about finding joy in the everyday or appreciating the small moments or what-have-you. I almost feel guilty mentioning it, because it sounds like a brag, but I really don’t mean it that way. I do find it interesting, though, from a sociological and psychological standpoint: what does it say about me that finding beauty in the mundane has never been a challenge, other than that I’m lucky?

I remember a time, several years ago, when I was riding in the car with my husband on a summer day. On the sidewalk was a woman, smiling, holding a radio to her ear and bouncing to the music as she walked. I thought she looked cute and fun and happy, and seeing the delight on her face made me happy, too. I admired her.

My husband’s reaction? Scorn. Not at her happiness, not directly; he scoffed that she was holding a radio to her ear instead of buying a newer, nicer one with headphones. I was stunned, and offended for both of us. Here was someone I thought would understand the kind of simplicity and in-the-moment joy on this woman’s face…yet he didn’t even seem to notice how beautiful that moment was. What does that say about him?

I think that was the first time I really pondered how different perception can be, even with things that seem to be completely, unmistakably positive. It was very telling, for both of us.

Don’t get me wrong–I have bad days. I have days where everything sucks so hard that I’m sure it’ll never stop. And sometimes it doesn’t stop, to be honest. There are circumstances in my life right now that make me feel helpless and hopeless and defeated, that I can’t do anything more about than I already am. I’m under a great deal of stress and am not always cheerful. But a long, hot bubble bath still feels the same. My cats’ toes are still perfect. All the wonder that surrounds me every second of every day is still there, waiting, even when I’m too distracted to appreciate it. To me, that’s just one more thing to be thankful for.

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Sometimes All My Spoons Are Dirty

I have a confession to make:  I don’t really like cooking.  This is despite the fact that I’m good at planning, good at executing the plan, and the results are consistently above average.  I do sometimes enjoy putting something together, particularly if it’s a new idea or something for an event or company, but, for the most part, I view cooking as a tedious chore that I perform only because it has to be done, and almost never because I actually WANT to.  And, believe me, I’ve tried really, really hard to want to.  It took me a long time to realize that I am under no obligation to enjoy the things I’m good at and stop feeling guilty about not “appreciating” my abilities.  I can’t make myself love something just because I have a skill for it, and continuing to force the issue isn’t helpful at all.

Even more tedious is having to clean up after I’ve used what little energy I can muster dragging my ass out there to cook something.  I often end up leaving dishes for the next day because I’m pretty much spent by then.  This isn’t so bad when it’s just me (as it almost always is, these days), but having just one other person for just one meal seems to multiply dirty dishes exponentially, and it can take me a day or two to catch up.

I suppose all of this is just the cost of being a grown-up.  All I can really hope for is that, eventually, the number of things I enjoy will equal or outnumber the things I don’t.  This has not always been the case, but I’ve had enough brief periods of it that I still have hope.  And, maybe someday, I will finally have the privilege of choosing when I cook.  Until then, I’ll probably be eating a lot of macaroni and cheese.

Pet Peeves Breed Like Rabbits

If peeves can be pets, I have a menagerie.  I don’t keep them in cages, though; I have a free-range peeve menagerie.  A peeve preserve, if you will (not to be confused with peeve preserves, which is delicious on wry toast).

That’s not to say I’m a negative or angry person.  On the contrary; I’m usually pretty positive, appreciative of the proverbial little things, and fairly hard to ruffle.  But, goddamn, I have a lot of pet peeves.

I love words, when they’re used correctly, so most of my pet peeves are related to grammar and spelling.  Now, my grammar isn’t perfect (though my spelling very nearly is).  I’m overly fond of parentheses, ellipses, and asides separated by dashes, for instance.  I also sometimes write sentence fragments (GASP).  But I see these more as stylistic things rather than actual grammar problems, and I’ve never been called on it by anyone who knew a damn thing about the rules, so I’m not too concerned about it. 

I’m actually a lot less annoyed by it than I used to be (in most cases)–and, therefore, less likely to correct people without being asked.  I attribute this partly to learning to prioritize as I’ve matured, and partly to the internet systematically wearing me down through repeated exposure.  It’s like immersion therapy.  Or maybe that numbing thing “they” like to say video games causes in kids. 

People I care about have a much higher irritation threshold when it comes to this stuff, too, I have to admit.  And it’s all a matter of context.  A good friend accidentally saying “your” instead of “you’re” in a private conversation is a lot more acceptable to me than someone who puts it on a sign.  Theoretically, that sign had to be approved–why did no one catch it?

What it comes down to, though, is just a general annoyance that so few people seem to have paid attention in school when this stuff was repeated year after year after year after year after ye…you get the idea.  I can understand not being very good at it–after all, I’m kind of terrible at math–but that’s why schools in the US go over it multiple times.  Barring disability, there’s no excuse for anyone with a high school diploma not to know that an apostrophe is meant to replace missing letters in contractions or show possession, not denote a plural. 

As communication gets more and more text-based, grammar and spelling become more important, not less.  You could be talking to anyone, from anywhere, at any given time.  Clarity of language is what binds us.  It’s your first impression to the world.  Why would you want it to be so terrible?